Sunday, April 12, 2009

Guide to Website Design for Paliaments

Websites (external) should only be one part of an integrated information and communication system for legal bodies. Other ICT tools might include: social networking sites, mobile phones and SMS/web applications, TV and radio, phones (such as an infoline) and of course good old print materials.In addition, websites (like an intranet) and these other tools can be used for internal information and communication as well.

On external websites, the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament, a project of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, has updated their "Guidelines for Parliamentary Websites"  The document has a full copyright with all rights reserved, so I'm not at liberty to reproduce any part of the report. (I wonder why? For the mission of the Centre, it would have been better to be able to share this freely under a Creative Commons license.)  While its titles specifies the websites of Parliaments, the guidelines can be adapted for the other two branches of government - the executive and (less so) the judiciary.

Aside from recommending open standards like XML, the guidelines point more to design than web development (referring to the technology itself). It does not talk about security layers, the use of CMSs, best tools for development, etc. Rather it talks about content, functionality, accessibility and oversight, using the following framework and suggestions. Read "Guidelines for Parliamentary Websites" for details of each suggestion.


General Information about Parliament
  • Access to parliament 
  • History and role 
  • Functions, composition, and activities
  • Elected leaders
  • Parliamentary committees, commissions,and other non-plenary bodies 
  • Members of parliament 
  • Political parties in parliament
    Elections and electoral systems
    Administration of parliament
    Publications, documents, and information services
  • General links to websites 

General information about legislative, budget, and oversight activities
  • Legislation 
  • Budget/Public Financing 
  • Oversight (Scrutiny) 
  • Activities of committees, commissions, and other non-plenary bodies
  • Plenary activities and documentation 


Finding, Receiving, and Viewing Information
  • Search engine 
  • Broadcasting and webcasting 
  • Alerting services 
  • Mobile services 
  • Security and authentication 

Communication and Dialogue with Citizens
  • General feedback 
  • Communication between members and citizens 

  • Usability
  • Accessibilit
  • Languages 
  • General design elements 

  • Authority and support 
  • Strategic vision and planning 
  • Roles, responsibilities, and coordination 
  • Management of documentation and information 
  • Promotion 

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